6 ways First Peoples’ stories define Sydney’s Harbour Walk

Artworks, language and sitelines weave together 9km of the foreshore.

A curated approach to storytelling

A series of interconnected stories and artworks will soon enliven the 9km Sydney harbour foreshore, from Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour to Woolloomooloo.

The City of Sydney engaged Aboriginal curator Emily McDaniel to provide recommendations for a storytelling Harbour Walk.

The storytelling report recommends ways to present the Harbour Walk as an Acknowledgement of Country. It aspires to weave a story about strength, survival and continuity.

Embedded content: https://cityofsydney.wistia.com/medias/ldy15oqaqx

A name that embodies Aboriginal significance

A Gadigal name for the Harbour Walk will recognise the significant relationship First Nations peoples have with the harbour foreshore: a recognition that to date has been hard to see.

As well as the Harbour Walk’s name, a First Nations artist or designer will create a visual identity for wayfinding along the walk.

The walk features sites of historical and cultural significance, and the relationships between them. These sitelines allow an intimate insight into the harbour’s cultural landscape as people walk from one major site to another.

Framing siteline relationships along the walk

The walk features sites of historical and cultural significance, and the relationships between them. These sitelines allow an intimate insight into the harbour’s cultural landscape as people walk from one major site to another.

Embedded content: https://cityofsydney.wistia.com/medias/621whegeme

Installations respond to harbour’s hidden histories

Emily McDaniel’s curatorial vision includes a series of installations that respond to the intimate, hidden histories of the harbour at specific locations. 12 priority locations have been selected as a starting point to convey the depth of living memory within Country. These include Pirrama, Cockle Bay, Barangaroo and Ta-ra (Dawes Point).

Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, circa 1819-20. Credit: James Taylor, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW

A greater awareness and respect for badu

For First Nations peoples, the concept of Country includes badu (water). Access to water is integral to cultural practices, and spiritual and physical wellbeing.

Water encapsulates an identity, with many communities referring to themselves as freshwater or saltwater peoples.

An environmental project with universities, marine institutes and artists is recommended to bring this connection with water into the everyday.

Major public artworks recognise living memories

Major works of art have been suggested at key sites to convey cultural connections to the harbour and stories of national significance.

These sites include Pirrama, adjacent to the Australian National Maritime Museum, The Hungry Mile at Barangaroo and Ta-ra (Dawes Point) - the site where Patyegarang gifted the Sydney language to William Dawes. The site of the old Boatshed at Circular Quay and the enduring presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Woolloomooloo testify to the historic and contemporary stories of Sydney.

Artist impression of bara by Judy Watson. Image courtesy of the artist and UAP

Supported by Eora Journey curatorial advisor Hetti Perkins, with guidance from the City’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel. The Harbour Walk is part of the City’s Eora Journey to recognise Indigenous peoples in the public domain.

The City will work with Indigenous communities, Place Management NSW and other government agencies, the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, cultural institutions and other partners to produce the project.

Posted . Last updated .

Subscribe for updates

Choose the news that interests you

Sign up
Sign up